Build bipartisan cooperationWe welcome President Lee Myung-bak’s latest meeting with leaders of the ruling and opposition parties regarding joint cooperation on matters of national security. The meeting took place four weeks after the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan along the sea border with North Korea in the Yellow Sea. Our political leaders should have had these meetings much earlier because solidarity is the top priority when an external crisis hits the country. But even when the attack shattered the country, they only aggravated internal confusion and chaos by distancing themselves from the tragedy.
Judging from the discussions at the Blue House meeting, however, there remains a slight gap in their views on the incident. Differences in ideology and security policies are not the problem here. The important thing at this critical moment is their will to reach a consensus and cope with the tragedy in a unified manner. In that sense, we also welcome the statement from major opposition Democratic Party leader Chung Sye-kyun, who said that he “will do his best to forge national integration.” This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War (1950-53). Since then, North Korea has launched countless provocations: the commando attack against the Blue House in 1968; the explosion in Burma that took the lives of dozens of South Korean government officials in 1983; the bombing of Korean Air flight 858 in 1987; and the dispatch of armed infiltrators to the South. North Korea has also developed nuclear weapons and the constitution of its Worker’s Party still stipulates the communist unification of the Korean Peninsula.
But it is hard to deny that we have been neglecting our security posture due to a temporary mood of reconciliation brought on by increased exchange and cooperation. A solid security posture is the only thing that can thwart reckless provocations from the North and lead to reconciliation and cooperation.
Therefore, the ruling and opposition parties’ decision to cooperate on national security seems appropriate. The change in the Democratic Party is especially encouraging. Some party members had once ruled out the possibility of a North Korean attack, characterizing the idea as the conservative camp’s efforts to earn points ahead of the local elections on June 2. But yesterday Chung denied that, saying that he had never suggested such a thing. DP floor leader Lee Kang-rae went further to say, “If the North is behind the tragedy, we should respond sternly.” President Lee also promised not to exploit the incident for political gain. We hope our political leaders will keep their promises and reassure the people that they are genuinely willing to tackle the security crisis in a bipartisan manner.